Here's What We Know About The "Donald Trump Economist" Working For Pauline Hanson

The man advising the key voting bloc in the Senate.

Posted on

Last month, the media was sent into a spin when controversial senator Pauline Hanson announced one of "Donald Trump's economists" would soon come to Australia to help her with economic matters.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

"We have just hired – and they've just landed in the country yesterday – one of the world's leading economists, who has worked for Donald Trump," Hanson's adviser James Ashby said.

BuzzFeed News can reveal the "world-leading economist" tasked with advising the crucial One Nation voting bloc in the divided Senate is dual US-Australian citizen Darren Nelson.

libertyworks.org.au

According to his CV on LinkedIn, Nelson was "looking to get back into full-time work" after working as a consultant at several Australian government departments and conservative US think tanks over the last two decades.

He's listed as "chief economist" at LibertyWorks, which is described on its website as an Australian non-profit think tank that advocates "drastic reduction in government control over people’s economic and personal lives".

In online biographies, Nelson repeatedly calls himself someone who adheres to the "Austrian school" of economics and a "neoAustrian" economist.

libertyworks.org.au

BuzzFeed News asked Richard Holden, professor of economics at the UNSW Australian Business School, what exactly a "neoAustrian" economist is.

"Those in the US who are marked by so-called Austrian economics express ideas of anti-federal bank activity and bringing back the gold standard," said Holden.

"[Former US presidential candidates] Rand Paul and Ron Paul are the most obvious candidates of that school at the moment.

"It’s an extremely conservative branch, with a particular focus on getting rid of central banks."

Holden, who received his economics PhD from Harvard, also questioned Nelson's economic credentials for someone advising a political party.

linkedin.com

"It doesn't look like he has a PhD in economics, and if you’re going to be an economics adviser, especially the main advisers for serious candidates or parties in Australia and in the US, well, it’s unusual."

Over the phone, a spokesperson for One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts said Nelson is now helping the team with "how climate policy affects the economy, industrial relations, and efficiency".

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

When asked for Nelson's role in Trump's presidential campaign, the spokesperson referred to him holding a "junior position in a mid-ranking pool of economists".

Despite him being heralded as a "Donald Trump economist" last month, BuzzFeed News questioned whether Nelson was a paid adviser or actually just volunteering on the campaign.

The spokesperson covered the phone, spoke to Nelson, who was standing next to him, and then said it "couldn't be revealed" because he had "signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Trump campaign".

Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.